There was just one more trip before the Dave and Deb of the Planet D took on their Ride Lake Superior ride. For this last voyage before becoming bona fide touring riders, they hit the road in the region known as Peterborough and the Kawarthas, and we were there to take it all in. Check out the video below, then read on for the full story.
For this ride we had three awesome bikes from Honda Canada; The NC750S—a naked, more around-town version of the very popular NC700X, a CB500X equipped with knobby tires, long-travel suspension, tall windscreen and saddle bags, and the CTX700T. Deb and Dave seemed right at home on knobby tires of the CB500X, showing off some of their dirt skills with this nascent adventure bike. But it was the CTX700T that everyone seemed to be clamouring to ride. This one was equipped with bags and a big windshield. It's comfortable seating position, along with the agility and ease of slow-speed handling made it the favourite among the group.
We began in the city of Peterborough, blessed with playing an incredible part in the history of the province of Ontario. Our first night was at the Best Western Otonabee Inn. The Otonabee River, that passes right outside it's doors, is an essential part of the Trent-Severn waterway and the history that shaped the forming of this region. After meeting up in the lobby of this family-run hotel, we headed downtown to an absolutely spectacular patio for a delicious gourmet meal at Elements Restaurant where we all caught up on the activities of the past few weeks and laid out our plan for riding over the next two days.
The next morning, after filling up near the Best Western, our first stop of the trip was at the Peterborough Lift Lock where the lockmaster gave us some first-hand insight into this amazing feat of engineering. We also had the great fortune to meet John Guider, an author and photographer who was sailing and rowing his way through the Trent-Severn waterway, which he complimented ad nauseam. His journey started in Louisiana, and he had planned to end in Chicago...a true adventurer.
We headed north on what locals call "The River Road" because of how closely it hugs the Otonabee River - if you're looking for it on a map, it's actually called "Nassau Mills Road" and it is an absolute blast. Low traffic, lots of curves. It's a bit rough in a few sections but the pavement is mostly in great shape, and it connects Peterborough to the lovely hamlet of Lakefield.
Our final stop of the morning was at the Whetung Ojibwa Gallery. We can't be sure if it's the fact that we visited this place on National Aboriginal Day in Canada, but I think I can safely speak for the group in saying that we all found this place to be truly magical and inspiring. Deb made a connection with one of the artists working there, while the rest of us took in the magnificent works of art. On the ceiling were three different traditional water vessels; a skin kayak, a birch bark canoe (made of one solid piece of birch bark, and a beautiful black ocean-going canoe that was used in Expo '86 opening ceremonies in Vancouver.
After a quick lunch on the waterfront in Buckhorn, we headed north on one of Ontario's Top Roads the Buckhorn Road AKA Highway 507. We could really see Deb and Dave enjoying testing out the new bikes and playing with the physical sensation of riding a motorcycle. Given the looks on their faces when we finally stopped for gas, I knew they enjoyed that run as much as we did. After a quick pass of the super twisty Dyno Road, we headed back to Lakefield as evening descended. A quick jaunt out of town and we found ourselves at The Lantern Restaurant which proved once and for all that Peterborough and the Kawarthas might be the reigning capital for culinary tourism in Ontario.
We had a restful sleep at The Village Inn before heading south for our second day. After fighting our way north on the busy Highway 28, we found motorcycle perfection in the form of Northey's Bay Road, a road so nice we rode it twice. We swapped bikes back and forth to see which we liked best on this twisty section of paved bliss, but we found that all three bikes had their specific charms. (although we liked the NC700S for the sportier sections of road!)
Finally we headed south, south of Highway 7 and zig-zagging our way on quiet backroads back to Keene, Ontario where Deb and Dave had sampled Muddy's Pit BBQ the week before. We decided to get a little heavy with the sugar on this visit instead, and stopped at the renowned Doo-Doo's Bakery (home of the "best butter tart in Ontario") and had a delicious lunch with some magnificently tasty and gooey butter tarts - which sold out entirely as we sat there eating!
It's hard to imagine a better send off for The Planet D before their big Ride Lake Superior trip. Our route offered the perfect balance of quiet backroads, twisties, local colour and charm, city-style sophistication and, of course, plenty of incredible eats. If you're planning a weekend motorcycle trip, the Peterborough and the Kawarthas Tourism staff are happy to help you plan your trip. Check out the route below for some great ways to get there avoiding the highways. And stay tuned for the next, and final, episode in The Planet D Ride Ontario!